Get Your #PitchOn Workshop: IN THE AGE OF THE SHADOWY SUN

Name: Michaela Sanderson
Country of residence: Australia
Genre: YA Speculative Fiction (I’m assuming this is YA since this contest isn’t open to adult fiction. Always best to make sure that age group specification is in there.)
Word Count: 150,000 (Maybe it’s different for Australian publishers, but this word count would be a tough sell for a YA novel in the U.S. Even an epic fantasy YA. I know this isn’t really within the scope of “pitch critique” but just something to be aware of long-term.)

Pitch: Kiah is torn. All she wants to do is find her mother. Unfortunately, enough people think she is the Warrior (removed a comma) to force her on a quest to destroy the Sorceress. (I’m not really sure what’s going on with this part. Why do they think she’s the Warrior? And who is the Warrior supposed to be? And who is the Sorceress, and why does she need to be destroyed?) If that’s not enough, (careful careful with this phrase – it has become a cliche in the querying and pitching arena) the guy she really cares for (removed a comma) betrays her, her grandfather despises her, the Sorceress’s henchmen are trying to kill her, and the only way to fix it all … is to be murdered.

Overall commentary: This pitch ends with a strong hook, but there is enough vagueness in the beginning that it’s tough to get a grasp on things. I think you need to tamp things down a bit more about this whole Warrior business. Keep the very last bit, but maybe lose the “If that’s not enough” list in order to make some room for focusing on Kiah’s primary conflict – search for her mother vs. becoming whoever the Warrior is supposed to be.

Okay, #PitchOn peoples, what are YOUR thoughts? Remember, for each critique you leave in the comments, you get an entry in the draw for one of eight 10-page critique from S.M. Johnston and workshop hosts Larissa HardestyStephanie DiazCatherine ScullyJodie AndrefskiPaula SangareTalynn Lynn and Kaitlin Adams. Please use the same names for all of your critiques. Also Sarah Nicolas will be giving away three query critiques. The opportunity ends October 14.  

Don’t forget – this is all just gearing up for a great, great contest on October 15th!

Commissioning and Managing Editor of Hardie Grant Egmont, Marisa Pintado, will be poised and ready to take your pitches both on Down Under Wonderings and on YAtopia on October 15th.

Marisa is looking for YA in any genre and is accepting submissions from anywhere in the world. It’s your chance to skip the slush pile and put your pitch right under the nose of a fantastic editor. There’s even better news – there is no limit on how many requests Marisa will make from the contest.

Here are the rules:

  • Your manuscript must be complete, polished and ready to query – this means no first drafts or almost finished manuscripts.
  • It must be YA.
  • When the contest goes live on October 15th, post your entry details in the comments section of either YAtopia or Down Under Wonderings – each blog is accepting 100 entries only.
  • Your entry detail needs to include a 50–70-word pitch.
  • You can enter more than once if you have more than one complete, polished, ready-to-query manuscript.

Just as it’s important to get someone else to look over your manuscript before you query, it’s also a good idea to get feedback on your pitch before you post. With that in mind, S.M. Johnston has lined up about twenty blogs who are ready to help you hone your pitch. These workshops start on October 1 and you can find the list of blogs participating here.

11 thoughts on “Get Your #PitchOn Workshop: IN THE AGE OF THE SHADOWY SUN

  1. Firstly, I think the premise is fantastic and I know there is an awesome story here:)

    My thoughts:
    What is Kiah is torn about in the story? She wants to find her mother or ? If torn isn’t the word you really need here, then I would drop the first sentence. If she is forced into being the Warrior, then that is not something she can be torn between choices. IF the choice is hers to make, than that would be a real issue to be torn over: search for her motehr or search for the Sorceress.

    The only way to fix things is allow herself to be murdered? I’m confused by that statement because who would WANT to be murdered? What about replacing that word with “is to die?” Of course, no one WANTS to die, either!

  2. Hi. There were parts of this I really liked and others I thought were too generic to create a strong hook. The opening sentences were too vague and I never really got a sense of who the characters were and what the stakes were for them on a PERSONAL level. I got the general broadstroke, but it didn’t make me feel connected to that particular character, which I think you have to do in order to create an emotional resonance with the reader. However, I loved the hook at the end – very strong and compelling. Good luck with this! 🙂

  3. I agree with the main crit that the pitch ends on an awesome hook. However, you write as if we know the world you’ve created, and since we don’t I can’t connect with the people, roles, or relationships you’ve introduced in these few words. I suggest sticking to one plot, and leaving out the extraneous characters that–although they’re important to the story, I’m sure–are too confusing to learn about in the pitch.

  4. I would have to agree with the sum. The Hook is good, but the beginning is awkward. You may think about dropping the first sentence and just jump into it.
    Kiah’s search for her mother always seems to be thwarted by the commonfolk who think her to be the Warrior foretold from the X. – something to get you thinking…

    Anyways, good luck!

  5. I have to agree with most of what I’ve seen here. You are inventing this new world, with these titles that we know nothing of. It is important to make us understand those titles, like Warrior and Sorceress, as best as you can within the pitch. Otherwise, some of the intrigue gets dropped. I do think this pitch has a VERY strong ending. The beginning just needs to be tacked down a bit more.

  6. I agree with the summary above, the ending is a strong hook, though I think it needs a little more explanation. If the beginning laid out the stakes more clearly we may understand this better. I think it needs to be clearer that the choice is search for mother or Sorceress and what the consequences of choosing one over the other are. Good luck though, sounds very interesting!

  7. Hi! I really like your story and think that the ending of th epitch is perfect. I think the problem is on the first sentence we need to now what is a warrior and the sroceress to know what the stakes are and to give more world building to the pitch.

  8. The pitch is really interesting and I love the hook at the end.

    I agree with Jeremy about considering dropping that first sentence, it feels a little distracting for me. Good luck to you 🙂

  9. Hey I agree with others. The pitch ends on a strong note, but needs clear, concise ideas leading up to it. I was confused from the beginning wondering who’s the Warrior or Sorceress, (Yes I know she’s the warrior that has to kill the sorceress, but why her? just needs to be clarified.) Why does her grandfather despiseher, and why does the person she really cares about betray her? You see we end up asking too many question with no follow-up answers. Sounds like a cool read. luck hey

  10. It looks like we all have the same thoughts about this pitch: LOVE the strong hook at the end, but confused by the vagueness of the beginning. Maybe if you gave us a little more concrete detail about the main character and her world (who/what is the Warrior? who is the Sorceress? why do we care?), we will be able to connect with her story better.

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